Dust in data centre
It is a well-known fact that ICT and other electronic equipment don’t like dust, and any other contaminants for that matter. The impact of dust on ICT equipment manifest itself in a variety of issues and risks such as reduced cooling efficiency, bad connectivity all the way up to fire in a worst-case scenario. The misperception is that when we think about dust, we believe that only dust we can spot with the human eye will cause issues. This is ignoring the fact that even small particles of for example 10 microns (10 μm), which is about 7-10x smaller than the thickness of a human hair, can cause havoc in a data centre environment.
The importance of measuring air quality
It simply is impossible to completely prevent dust from entering the mission critical environment of the computer room and other supporting facilities areas. It is therefore important to find out whether the air particulates in the room present a risk on the data centre equipment by measuring the air quality inside those critical areas. Standards and guidelines such as the EN-50600, ISO-22237 and other data centre related standards indicate the importance of air quality and are referencing as benchmark the ISO-14644 standard.
Having its origin in clean room environments, the ISO-14644 has been widely adopted in the data centre world as being the benchmark. The standard defines 9 classes with Class-1 defining the most stringent air quality environments. Most data centres aim at Class-8 or in some cases Class-7 which ensures a good operating environment for today’s equipment.
How to benchmark data centre cleaning service providers?
The key is of course to ensure that you engage specialized and qualified data centre cleaning organizations as unfortunately there are plenty of organizations who are cleaning mission critical environments without appropriate materials, procedures and qualified personnel. Some of these organisations try to impress the customer by swinging an expensive air quality meter around without following the strict guidance and adherence to the process and requirements of the ISO-14644 standard.
There is only one way to ascertain whether companies who conduct data centre cleaning and air quality measurements are following the requirements of ISO-14644 and that is when they are able to provide the customer with an ISO-14644 based conformity certificate which is issued by an impartial and independent Registered Certification Body (RCB/CB). Anything short of that would be giving the customer a false impression of safety of their computing environment.
The importance of independent certification
So why is a certification from a Registered Certification Body necessary? There are many reasons which can be summed up into 2 major categories:
1. Assurance on the quality of the service provided by the data centre cleaning company.
A certification from a Registered Certification Body ensures that the data centre cleaning company is following the process as laid down in the ISO-14644 standard. This requires staff to be trained to operate the testing equipment and understand how to conduct measurements. It requires the equipment to be appropriately tested and calibrated. Furthermore, it ensures that the data is properly reviewed and that the report provided meets the minimum requirements as described in the standard.
2. Credibility and recognition of the final report and certificate
The report is reviewed by a qualified independent auditor from the Registered Certification Body for its correctness. This is an additional impartial verification of the test results providing an unbiased layer of extra protection to the customer who can be assured that the results are true and correct. Once the auditor has validated the report and confirmed it to be correct then the Registered Certification Body will issue the certificate and maintain it in the certification register for validation by the customer and/or 3rd parties.
Certification by a true Certification Body will give that extra level of assurance to the end-user to ensure their investment is protected.
By Edward van Leent, Chairman & CEO, EPI Group of Companies